Despite the fact that we spend one third of our life sleeping, this period of sleep has not been investigated adequately. In general, many people think that we switch off our brain and go to sleep. However, recent research has demonstrated that sleep is a physiological function. During sleep, there are many complicated processes at the level of the brain and other vital organs.
Sleep medicine is a new medical specialty. It started to take its clear role in the last 25 years. The new International classification of sleep disorders includes more than 84 disorders. Each disorder has its own diagnostic and therapeutic criteria.
University Sleep Disorders Center is a pioneer medical center in the Kingdom and the region at the level of diagnosis, treatment, training and research in sleep medicine.
The center is equipped with the state of the art diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. It accepts patients with all sleep disorders and from all age groups. Referrals are sent to the center from all over Kingdom. At the present, the center has four stationary diagnostic bedrooms and three mobile diagnostic systems.
The work in the sleep disorders center goes around the clock where overnight and daytime sleep studies are performed. A number of physiological parameters are monitored during sleep studies and an overnight sleep study contains on average 800 pages of data. Data is usually collected for 7-8 continuous hours. The collected data is then read in a process called scoring. Scoring one study takes from 1-2 hours.
Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the major sleep disorders that can result in decreased memory and concentration. Additionally, it increases the risk the of hypertension, stroke, heart attack as well as car accidents.
In a study that was performed in the center and published in the Saudi Medical Journal (SMJ 2007), we found that one third of middle-aged Saudi males are at risk of having obstructive sleep apnea.
In another study (SMJ 2007), we found that the number of hospital beds designated for sleep medicine in the Kingdom is 0.06/100,000 citizen compared to 0.3-1.5/100,000 in developed countries. The main obstacle facing this specialty in the Kingdom is lack of trained sleep technologists.
University Sleep Disorders Center is distinguished by its ability to diagnose and treat all sleep disorders. The center has presented data about rare sleep disorders in national and international medical meetings. It has received a number of requests from International centers for scientific collaborations.
Since the opening of the center, above 2000 sleep studies have been performed.
Education of the public and increasing their awareness about sleep disorders has been one of the main tasks of the center. To achieve that, the center has done the following:
- Publishing educational brochures addressing different sleep disorders
- The participation in several educational programs on TV and radio.
- Editing a bi-weekly medical page in Alriyadh newspaper about sleep disorders.
- Writing educational articles in a number of local and regional newspapers and magazines.
- The center established the first bilingual (Arabic/English) educational website about sleep disorders “Encyclopedia of Sleep in Health and Disease”.
University Sleep Disorders Center has trained a number of trainees from different specialties as well as sleep technologists. So far, the center has trained 22 psychiatry residents and more than 7 pulmonary fellows from different hospitals in Kingdom and the gulf.
The center had started the following training and educational programs:
- King Saud University Sleep Medicine Fellowship
- A diploma degree for sleep technologists
- A continuous medical education program for sleep technologist.
University Sleep Disorders Center is distinguished regionally in research. The staff and trainees working in center have published a number of papers in distinguished peer review journals and participated actively in national and international sleep medicine conferences.
- Since 2002, more than 90 peer reviewed papers have been published and around 80 scientific abstracts have been read in local and international scientific meetings.
- The center has presented more than 60 scientific papers in national and international scientific meetings.
- Undergraduate students have participated in more than 25 research projects.
Undergraduate students won the first and second best research award in the sixth annual meeting in the Saudi Thoracic Society meeting and the best research award in the seventh annual meeting in the Saudi Thoracic Society meeting.
The center established two websites:
- University Sleep Disorders Center website: This site focuses about the academic, training and research activities of the center.
- Encyclopedia of Sleep in Health and Disease website: The site is addressed the public and target all Arabic and English speaking Internet visitors. It aims to increase the awareness about sleep disorders and the best ways for prevention and treatment. It allows the public to communicate with the specialists. http://www.alnoum.com